GoFundMe Will NOT Release $9 MILLION to Freedom Convoy Claiming Protest is an ‘Occupation’
Update — After fierce backlash and growing calls for GoFundMe to be investigated for allegedly defrauding Freedom Convoy organizers and the more than 100,000 donors, the fundraising site now says it will “automatically” refund the remaining C$9 million to each person who contributed.
“To simplify the process for our users, we will be refunding all donations to the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser,” GoFundMe said. “This refund will happen automatically—you do not need to submit a request. Donors can expect to see refunds within 7-10 business days.”
To simplify the process for our users, we will be refunding all donations to the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser. This refund will happen automatically—you do not need to submit a request. Donors can expect to see refunds within 7-10 business days.
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) February 5, 2022
GoFundMe made the change only hours after first notifying donors they would have to submit a request for a refund or the unreturned funds would be donated to charities chosen by Freedom Convoy organizers.
While the fundraising site has been cheered by some politicians, law enforcement agencies, and a host of Canadian and U.S. media outlets, at least six state attorneys general have since announced they will be conducting an investigation into GoFundMe.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) was among those who quickly called out GoFundMe for possibly engaging in “deceptive” business practices.
It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing.
I will work with @AGAshleyMoody to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 5, 2022
Aside from the potential legal ramifications, GoFundMe was also lambasted by the world’s richest person.
Elon Musk pointed out the glaring hypocrisy that GoFundMe allowed campaigns for violent demonstrations associated with the Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots during the summer of 2020 including the “occupation” of a portion of Seattle’s downtown core.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 5, 2022
Meanwhile, Freedom Convoy organizers remain undeterred.
They have since directed donations to a new campaign on GiveSendGo.com which has already raked in over $1 million.
Ottawa, ON — GoFundMe will not release approximately C$9 million raised by Freedom Convoy organizers citing the protest has become an “occupation.”
In a statement released Friday afternoon, GoFundMe said it supports “peaceful demonstration,” but after receiving “reports of violence and other unlawful activity” from police, the protest is now in violation of its Terms of Service.
“To ensure GoFundMe remains a trusted platform, we work with local authorities to ensure we have a detailed, factual understanding of events taking place on the ground,” a statement reads. “Following a review of relevant facts and multiple discussions with local law enforcement and city officials, this fundraiser is now in violation of our Terms of Service (Term 8, which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment) and has been removed from the platform.”
GoFundMe previously released C$1 million of the over C$10 million raised for truckers’ expenses on food, lodging and fuel.
However, after intense pressure brought by governmental leaders, Ottawa Police, as well as a barrage of mainstream media outrage in both Canada and the U.S., GoFundMe said “no further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers.”
“We will work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe,” the fundraising site said. “All donors may submit a request for a full refund until February 19th, 2022 using this dedicated refund form.”
Ottawa Police released a statement following GoFundMe’s announcement calling it “an important step.”
Officials also urged other crowdfunding sites “to follow” GoFundMe’s decision.
We want to thank @gofundme for listening to our concerns as a City and a police service. The decision to withhold funding for these unlawful demonstrations is an important step and we call on all crowdfunding sites to follow.
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) February 5, 2022
Freedom Convoy organizers had hired a team of legal representatives to negotiate the release of the remaining funds, but have also indicated they have other fundraising options in the works.
One such way donations are still being collected is through E-transfer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on Friday, organizers were slapped with a massive class-action lawsuit.
Click HERE to read more about the C$9.8 million complaint.
TransportationNation.com will continue to track this story closely.